2010 in review: April through June

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 3, 2011

Editor’s note: With another memorable year ended, the Bulletin chose to reflect on those stories that kept the community talking in 2010. We present highlights of those stories from April through June here; for other months, see the Dec. 31 issue and later issues this week.
• The state of North Carolina sued Chocolate Drop development in Columbus after citing the development with numerous violations of erosion and sedimentation laws.
• The Polk County Agriculture Center had more than 100 volunteers show up to help renovate the former Mill Spring School to house the facility.
• The Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry’s children’s backpack program tripled in need. Outreach began the program in 2008 with 67 children who took home backpacks full of food for the weekend. The program this year had 250 children with some on a waiting list as of April.
• Local cyclist John Cash honored his son, Justin, by riding in his second-annual climb for cancer, which included 10 runs up Saluda Grade between Tryon and Saluda. Cash’s son died unexpectedly in March from health problems.
• A natural gas line was struck by lightning in Mill Spring. The Silver Creek Road incident reportedly shot flames 100 feet in the air. Between 30 and 50 people were evacuated.
• Polk County commissioners and members of the county’s recycling advisory board accepted a state award for the mobile recycling program. The N.C. Association of County Commissioners presented the Outstanding County Program Award, one of only 12 given out statewide this year.
• Block House founder Carter Brown was credited with putting Tryon on the map. The 64th-annual Block House Steeplechase was held at FENCE.
• The Polk County High School FFA Chapter won its second senior division State Land Judging Competition and second consecutive junior division championship. The senior land judging team members were team advisor Chauncey Barber, Clay Blackwell (senior), Blair Ruth (junior), Jackson Hughes (sophomore) and team advisor Richard Smith; (kneeling) Alex Stott (sophomore).
• “Regality,” a horse from the Steeplechase, fell from exhaustion on the first lap as he was in the lead during the 64th Block House Steeplechase. Tryon Riding & Hunt Club officials reported that the horse and jockey were both fine.
• Polk County commissioners voted 3-2 to fund a water line extension to the Green Creek Community Center. Commissioners Tommy Melton and Warren Watson voted against the county funding the line with commissioners Ray Gasperson, Renee McDermott and Cindy Walker voting for the motion. The cost was estimated at $17,307.
• Former Polk County Sheriff Officer Joshua Denton agreed to surrender his law enforcement credentials in exchange for assault on a female charges to be dismissed following an October, 2008 tasing incident of a woman at the sheriff’s office.
• In the Tuesday, May 4 primary election, Polk County voters selected six candidates seeking three open seats on the county board of commissioners. Democratic candidates chosen were Ray Gasperson (high vote-getter), Margaret Johnson and Benny Smith. Republican winners were Ted Owens (high vote-getter), David Moore and Tom Pack. Republican voters selected Nathan Shields to face Democrat Donald Hill in November.
• The Polk County Rescue Squad held an open house on Saturday, May 8 to commemorate its 50-year anniversary.
• A story about Polk County ran on UNC-TV’s “NC Weekend” on May 8. The nearly-five-minute segment features both Green River Adventures and Pearson’s Falls.
• After not being able to get necessary utility easements for a waterline extension down Pittman Drive to the Derbyshire development in Green Creek, the developer proposed paying the majority of the costs to run the line along Landrum Road. The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved spending $3,866 to run a 12 inch line under Hwy. 9 as part of the extension to the Derbyshire development. The new agreement was expected to  save the county about $10,000.
• Foothills Humane Society President Robert Then announced the expansion of the society’s animal shelter facilities on Little Mountain Road.
• Lake Lanier Tea House cut down the 115-year-old sweet gum tree that had grace the restaurant’s patio for decades.
• Makenzie White was named Miss PCHS 2010. She was crowned by Miss PCHS 2009 Krystle Fortenberry.
• Tryon Arts and Crafts celebrated its 50th anniversary. The celebration included a benefit auction.
• Polk County High’s Jamie Hrobak threw a no-hitter on senior night, May 7, against Hendersonville in the last game of the regular baseball season. Alyssa Montgomery provided stellar defense to guide Polk to a 9-1 victory.
• Polk County boys and girls track teams swept the 2A West Regional Meet on May 8 in the school’s first season after moving from 1A to 2A.
• The seventh-annual Saluda Arts Festival was held on May 15.
• Stars descended on Bright’s Creek Golf Community in Mill Spring, cohost for the 10th-annual BMW Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament. Some of the stars included Thomas Gibson, Kurt Russell, Branford Marsallis, Terry O’Quinn and Jerry Rice. A record 57,000 fans witnessed Justin Hicks win the tournament.
• The Woodland Mills plant in Mill Spring, which closed earlier in 2010, announced plans to sell its equipment and pay off $126,000 owed to Polk County in taxes and water/sewer bills. The mill ran textile operations for about 10 years off Hwy. 108 near the Mill Spring crossroads.
• Clark Thompson, 70, a native of Saluda who has lived in Pensacola, Fla. since the early 1960s, announced that he was buying the old Ward’s Grill and Thompson’s Store building. Judy Ward, who ran the store with her late husband, Charlie, before they sold to Larry and Deborah Jackson in 2007, is a partner with Clark and came back to run the grill.
• The Foothills Music Club announced its 2010 scholarship winners. Local winners included Troy Brooks, saxophone; Ben Stockdale, percussion; Clayton Carey, percussion; Isaac McCullough, piano; Kaytee McCullough, piano; Cabot Lee Petoia, violin; Aya Matsui, piano; Elizabeth Shanahan, voice; and Liana Stadelmann, saxophone.
• Watercress Group announced plans to transform the Stone Hedge Inn property outside Tryon into a swim and tennis country club. Watercress Group contracted in May with Stone Hedge owners Tom and Shaula Dinsmore to purchase the 26-acre property on Howard Gap Road, according to the group’s project manager Jeff Tempest. Watercress later withdrew its offer.
• Both the Landrum High School boys and girls teams finished second overall in the class 1-a division at the south Carolina High school League 2010 track and field state championships on May 15. Both the Landrum High boys and the girls 4 x 800 meter relay teams won state championships.
• Art in Bloom, a celebration of artful gardens in the Carolina foothills, was held in Tryon  May 22-23. The Tryon Fine Arts Center, in conjunction with The Daffy Jills, The Magnolia Garden Club, The Tryon Garden Club and The Green Blades Garden Club, presented the event, which included tours of six private gardens in the Tryon area.
• The Town of Columbus moved forward with a major upgrade of its waste water treatment plant, an estimated $3.6 million project that could result in higher water and sewer rates for customers.A 20 percent water and sewer rate increase was recommended by town staff.
• Larry Hill, the owner of Watson’s Carpet and Appliances in Columbus, asked the town to pay for flood damages that occurred in the store during a heavy spring rain. Hill said the town had previously declined paying $9,219 in damages.
• The Landrum Area Business Association and the City of Landrum presented the city’s second 2010 Home & Garden Stroll on Memorial Day.
• A father and son drowned in Lake Adger trying to save a 5-year-old girl who fell off a boat. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said William Butch Jackson, 48, and William Butch Jackson Jr., 21, both of Hendersonville, jumped into the water and did not resurface. Officials said there was no evidence of any alcohol or other substances on the boat.
• Polk County saw its largest employment gains in the past two years, according to April figures from the N.C. Employment Security Commission. The unemployment rate dropped from 9.4 percent in March to 8.4 percent in April and the number of unemployed Polk County residents fell from 912 to 807.
• The new Landrum High School graduated its first class to enter the new school as freshman, 104 students.
• Landrum High School announced new coaches leading the baseball and wrestling programs after Dennis Brown’s decision to step down as the head coach of Landrum’s baseball program for family reasons. Ray McCallister replaced Brown as the head baseball coach, and Josh Fowler was named the new wrestling coach.
• Tryon Country Club asked Tryon to undo an earlier rezoning of about 130 acres of some country club property in an attempt to end a long-standing lawsuit. TCC wanted the property to be back from residential to P-1 open space zoning. The town rezoned the property a few years earlier to conditional use R-4 to allow the country club to sell some of the property for development. Nearby residents filed suit against the town, and the development plans fell through.
• Columbus hired Jonathan Kanipe as its new manager. Kanipe was hired to replace former town manager Tim Holloman, who was fired in December 2009 by a newly elected council.
• Tryon Town Council decided to identify problems with the town’s wastewater flow, especially in the East Howard Street area. Council agreed to apply for a $40,000 N.C. Rural Center grant to do inflow and infiltration studies throughout town, beginning in the E. Howard area.
• Polk County announced plans to sue White Oak Development after not receiving payments for the construction of a water line. White Oak initially owed the county $359,505, which was supposed to be paid in full by Sept. 1, 2009. The county agreed to accept payments of $34,000 each month until the bill was paid in full, but many payments were missed, according to Polk manager Ryan Whitson.
• Area Polk and town officials began again to talk of creating a county water authority. Just a few years ago, the county and towns held meetings intended to create a joint water authority, but the group could not reach consensus.
• S.C. primaries put incumbent Republican Joey Millwood and challenger Doug Brannon in a runoff for the S.C. House District 38 seat. The runoff was June 22.
• The Blue Ridge Barbecue & Music Festival was held at Harmon Field in Tryon, after being canceled early in the year and then brought back through volunteer efforts and cost-cutting. Crowds were down slightly but organizers said with costs cut, the event was a success, and they later decided to hold the festival again in 2011.
• The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested three men in connection with break-ins in the Green Creek area. The three were Tyrone Jaqweze Tanner, 19, of Green Creek, Tyler Daynor Tanner, 18, of Green Creek and Matthew Lee Mcabee, 18, of Inman, S.C.
• Commissioners decided to look into purchasing water from nearby Lake Lure to give Sunny View Fire and Rescue a public water source.
• The 11th season of Summer Tracks – Tryon’s summer concert series – kicked off in Rogers Park with The Steel Wheels. Other performers of the season included the Mark Yaxley Trio, the Red Hot Sugar Babies, Gigi Dover & the Big Love, Bob Sinclair, the Swayback Sisters Trio, the Spaceheaters, Sol Driven Train and the Firecracker Jazz Band.
• A young Polk County High School girls soccer team’s 2010 season ended with a journey into the third round of the state playoffs and a 15-9 overall record against stiff competition.
• Polk County High School graduated 172.
• Tryon passed a budget with no water and sewer rates increases as earlier planned. Instead, the town decided to cut most department expenditures by five percent and in the future look at reducing the number of town employees through early retirement and “both voluntary and involuntary termination of employees.”
• Spartanburg County District One Schools learned they were going to work with about $1.8 million less in state funding in the 2010-11 year.
• In one of numerous bear sightings this year, Patty Presnell of Carolina Drive got a visit from a small bear. After a while, full of birdseed, the bear ambled off into the woods and back up the mountain.
• The opening of the new Polk County adult day care center in Columbus was delayed by rain. The center eventually opened in December.
• Lake Lure Classical Academy charter school put temporary buildings in place in May and later opened in August.
• Polk County approved a $27.5 million budget that included funding for a new human services building with plans to finance $1.63 million, plus $139,000 for architectural services. Also included was funding to extend county water lines and $200,000 for future Lake Adger dam repairs.
• Columbus asked its planning board to amend the town’s zoning ordinance to restrict gaming operations to within 500 feet on either side of I-26.
• The Polk County High School softball team finished with an 18-7 record and a playoff appearance.
• The Landrum Majors redwings baseball team won the District 1 Championship Tournament and regular-season title, finishing with a 15-1 record for the season. The team dedicated the tournament victory to Chris Killough, the mother of third-baseman Noah Killough, wearing pink jerseys for the tournament to acknowledge Ms. Killough’s battle with breast cancer.
• First PolkFresh Agri-Tour  gave attendees a chance to visit 12 working farms and other agricultural businesses in the area.
• Polk commissioners agreed to extend a water line from the county recreation complex to the Mill Spring Agricultural Development and Community Center at a cost of $18,535.
• The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested Derek Matthew Cisney, 19, of Chesnee, S.C., in connection with a string of break-ins in Green Creek.
• Regional One, the air ambulance affiliated with Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, received the state Department of Health and Environmental Control’s EMS System of the Year Award.
• A 38-year tradition continued in Columbus with the annual Columbus Fire Department BBQ and Gospel Sing benefiting the fire department.
• Columbus council took a red pen to its proposed budget, making cuts to keep the property tax rate the same and reduce the proposed water and sewer rate increase from 20 percent to 5 percent.
• After about a year of working jointly for the towns of Columbus and Tryon as town planner, Melanie Sand resigned to study for her master’s degree in urban planning. Sand worked for Tryon two days per week and for Columbus three days per week as planner. No plans were made to replace her.
• Columbus agreed to look into consolidating county police departments. Town officials planned to visit Gaston Cty. to study its county-wide police system.
• The Tryon Little Theater (TLT) board of directors began a search for a permanent home for the local theater company, currently located in the old NAPA Auto Parts store on Hwy. 176 in Tryon. The Tryon Fine Arts Center recently reaffirmed that TLT is its “resident theater company,” and has a permanent home at TFAC, but the TLT board said the present TFAC facility cannot accommodate the physical needs of the theater group.
• Polk County auctioned a home and land on Monday for the first time in more than six years. The property in Silver Creek Community, formerly Land of Lakes subdivision, in Mill Spring went to the only bidder for $3,116 during the tax foreclosure auction held at the Polk County Courthouse.

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